Spiritual Gifts and a Dream in the Night:
We are developing a series on Spiritual gifts… So here is the question: Can a dream be a gift from God?
I remember the first time I ever asked that question. I was a young man and had started to hang out with some young people from a church that forbid dancing as foreplay. Of course, most of them didn’t know how to dance. Well, I grew up doing ethnic folk dance—the background was Eastern European, so it was assumed that you would at least try to do that. Now that cultural expression of dancing wasn’t foreplay—it was downright strenuous! Of course, we laughed about that. In the culture I was from, the men would do gymnastic maneuvers and the women would do a circle dance, etc.
Well, one night I had a dream—and one of those young people from that church was attempting to do a dance move and had all the dexterity of a 5 foot piece of 2 x 10. I woke up laughing (a great way to wake up).
Most dreams fall into the category of reflecting on the issues of the day, and chat with friends, a snippet from the radio, and a favorite song, getting jumbled together in a stream of consciousness kind of way.
That kind of dream would not be in the realm of a spiritual gift from God.
And then, there are those other times, when a dream is granted, and a destiny is altered. Those moments are rare. Yet I can testify to a couple of them having significant power. Those dreams could not be forgotten; they drove me to ponder the meaning and to pray. This kind of dreaming could in fact be a gift from God.
The second story in my upcoming book, “Hey, Are You There, It’s Me—God” contains one of those moments… Here is an excerpt from the book to make the point.
Carolyn awoke with a start and sat bolt upright in bed. She was terrified, frightened, sick at heart and shaken to the core by the nightmare she had just experienced. What she didn’t know as her heart was racing in the middle of the night was that it was actually God that was speaking…
This account is gripping, compelling and completely true.
Her full name was Carolyn Eckman, and she was living in what was known at the time as Irian Jaya (now called Papua New Guinea). She was a believer and was one of those faithful people who worked behind the scenes, using all her powers to make it possible for people to even begin to understand the love of God.
One night, Carolyn was awakened by an alarming dream.
In her dream, Carolyn and her family were driving along a narrow two-lane road that was to take them to the market in the coastal city of Jayapura. The dream was graphic, clear—and terrifying in the extreme. She was driving her car, and
In the dream, just as she came to the one lane curve, a blue Volkswagen minibus with yellow taxicab plates came careening wildly around the single lane curve. The two vehicles were going so quickly that neither could avoid a collision. They crashed head-on, with car-parts and carnage (including hers and her family’s) scattering over the road.
As you can well imagine, Carolyn woke up with a start, terrified.
If that had been you or me, it would have taken quite a while to calm down enough to even want to sleep. Of course, her husband, now quite awake with her, reassured her that all was well, it was only a dream. She did manage to get some rest.
The next afternoon, Carolyn was in her car on the way to the very city, Jayapura. Once a week it was her custom to travel there to help new workers learn to speak Indonesian. As she was driving, an unusual series of events unfolded before her very eyes, causing the memory of the nightmare to return to her conscious mind!
In a flash, she realized that it was the same patch of road that she had seen in her graphic dream the night before!
Carolyn reacted at once. Immediately, instinctively, she yanked the steering wheel as hard as her arms would allow, lurching off to the side of the road as fast and as far as she could get.
A fraction of a second later, a blue Volkswagen minibus with yellow taxicab license plates came screeching around that blind corner, just barely missing her vehicle on the side of the road. It would have certainly been a head-on collision if she hadn’t pulled off a scant breath before.
Eckman (and her writer, Charles Shepson) together both affirmed that God saved her life through a dream, a warning in the night. God sent a warning through a dream in the night.
So, is this in the Bible? Actually, it is everywhere.
Pharaoh king of Egypt had two dreams to warn him of the future.
Nebuchadnezzar had dreams that could only be interpreted by Daniel, and those dreams were from God Himself.
God spoke in a dream to Joseph the Carpenter, telling him that he should marry the virgin Mary and marry her he did.
God spoke to Wise Men from the east coming to visit the Christ-Child, warning them not to tell Herod the Great where the Child Jesus could be found—and then God spoke to Joseph the carpenter again, warning him to flee the country to keep Jesus safe—and eventually through another dream to return. And he listened to them.
God spoke to the wife of Pontius Pilate—and she indicated that Pontius should have nothing to do with judging Jesus, as He was an innocent man.
God can speak through dreams. How do we know that it is God talking? Well, the quality of a God-inspired dream is quite different from your run of the mill "stream of consciousness" dream…
If the dream is vivid, does not fade from memory, but grips you, pay attention. God sometimes resorts to dreams to teach us, direct us, or to call us to some wise decision. Sometimes they are disturbing, and sometimes they are directive and faith-building…
So what are we to do with a gripping dream like that?
When the dream grips the heart, the response of the dreamer is to be open-hearted and in prayer. If the word is from God, then the believer will be granted an increase in three elements within, “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit.” These three identity markers for discernment are God’s non-verbal “voice” guiding us to consider a wise pathway before us. If the dream leads you to be distracted from the Lord, as you ponder the dream, then it was either rooted in ordinary life, or perhaps, was a product of your sinful flesh or the devil; it should be resisted.
When the day is done, let the gripping dream take hold, and place it before the Lord. He could be speaking.
© David Chotka 2021
 This account is taken from Charles W. Shepson, “How to Know God’s Will,” (Beaverlodge: Horizon Publishers, 1982), p. 36-37. The Eckmans served in Irian Jaya from 1961 to 1979. When Carolyn’s husband David passed away, Carolyn went on to found Paradise Mountain Ministries, in Toccoa Georgia, a home away from home for college age, “third culture kids.” In time, Carolyn remarried and is now Carolyn Eckman Ballard.